The 2022 Overall UCI World Cup Downhill Winner, Amaury Pierron, challenged Schwalbe to produce the fastest ever downhill mountain bike tire. The result? The Tacky Chan, an all-new tread pattern that has been under development for almost three years.
The task set out by Pierron and his team mates, Thibaut Daprela and Myriam Nicole, was actually a little more nuanced than that. They asked for a tire that was faster-rolling, with a more precise ride feel than the Magic Mary, without giving up braking performance along the way.
Schwalbe Tacky Chan
In the development of the Tacky Chan, Schwalbe took advantage of the large tread blocks of the Big Betty. No fewer than twelve cuts of its tread pattern were tested back-to-back by the team, in the hunt for a tire that exhibited that increased precision the riders were after.
The initial cut taken forward from the twelve options was similar, but not identical, to the tread pattern launched today. Ramps were added to the center-tread lugs to reduce rolling resistance, and the shoulder lugs were made 20% more stable than those seen on the Magic Mary to result in increased lateral support. Braking edges were increased marginally, and the distance between center lugs was increased by 10% in order to allow each to “nibble into the ground better” – as Jack Reading puts it.
An early prototype of the Tacky Chan was raced by Thibaut Daprela at the 2021 World Championships in Val di Sole. Despite riding well in his qualification run, Thibaut crashed twice in his finals run. Though it can be hard to say exactly what caused any crash, Schwalbe took a long hard look in the mirror and asked themselves if the tire was at fault.
The feedback from Thibaut himself was that the tire had potential, but it hadn’t reached the finish line in his eyes. Further refinements were needed – specifically, the large edge lugs were too stiff, too unyielding, and more cornering control was required.
From there, Schwalbe made the following key changes:
- Shoulder lugs were reduced in volume, but with the braking edge increasing by 1mm
- Extra siping was added to give more lateral flex to the shoulder knobs
Schwalbe Tacky Chan: First Impressions
At the launch event in Leogang, we were handed a Commencal Meta POWER TR. The 140mm eMTB delivers its rear wheel travel through the four-bar Contact System, and is damped by a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil. Its 29″ wheels were home to a set of the 2.4″ Schwalbe Tacky Chan tires in the Super Downhill casing with the Addix Ultra Soft compound making up the tread cap.
To get a feel for the tire, we were treated to a mixture of fast, ultra-flattering bike park descents and more natural, narrow sections of singletrack littered with roots. Trail conditions were very dry; most surfaces were hard-packed, with a small dose of loose-over-hard thrown in for good measure.
To be clear; this is not a review. To comment on how the Tacky Chan compares to any other tires of this genre would be disingenuous. I don’t often ride such flattering bike park conditions, nor do I often ride coil-sprung eBikes. A set of Tacky Chan tires are making their way home with me, for the purposes of back-to-back testing in the Tweed Valley.
With that in mind, here are my initial thoughts.
With 17 PSI in the front tire and 20 PSI in the rear, I set off down the Steinberg Line by Fox, a mellow track with smooth, fast berms and the occasional opportunity to double some rollers. I had a great time, and was super impressed with how easily manageable, and even playful, the Commencal Meta Power TR was. But, you’re not here to hear about eBikes.
The Schwalbe Tacky Chan wasn’t developed with eBikes in mind – though it is E50 approved – but my initial thought is that it is certainly not a bad option. It didn’t take too many corners to get up to a good speed, and the tires felt consistent throughout a long descent of the bike park.
Splatters of tire sealant on the sidewalls suggest the front and rear tires were burping a little air in turns, but I can’t say I actually felt those moments while riding the track. It’s possible the tires may have benefited from a little more air. Precision of the tire felt good when pushing for grip to initiate cornering, though I wasn’t yet in a place where I wanted to trust the setup with riskier maneuvers on the loose-over-hard patches of track.
More trust in the bike and tires came on the second day of riding the same tracks, and I did on a handful of occasions end up at higher lean angles that induced a considerable amount of excitement and concern in equal measure. Nevertheless, the Schwalbe Tacky Chan held the line without drama, suggesting I was still a way off finding the edge of his grip.
On the more natural trails that featured more loose, less well-supported corners, I did feel a little vagueness on the front tire in situations where I was perhaps not weighting the front wheel quite as much as I should have been. The front wheel never washed entirely, but warning shots were fired, reminding me to load up the front tire more to ensure it could demand grip from the terrain.
Jack Reading, a World Cup Downhill athlete supported by Schwalbe, did say that the Schwalbe Tacky Chan performs at its best when it is ridden hard, and my experience is certainly consistent with that.
In terms of wear, the rear tire had begun to lose its braking edges after less than a day’s worth of riding in the bike park – the above photo is of the rear tire ridden by a fellow journalist who is somewhat more aggressive and, he won’t mind me saying, heavier than I am.
To be fair, you’re in for a very expensive season at the bike park if you’re wanting to run Addix Ultra Soft on the rear for the duration. In the interest of durability, you’d probably want to go with the faster-rolling Addix Soft compound option – but that is only available in 27.5″ x 2.4″ in the Super Gravity casing. Indeed, the Tacky Chan launches with just six options, details on which can be found in the table below.
Back-to-back testing of the Magic Mary versus the Tacky Chan is booked in for next month. A more thorough, insightful review will be provided in the future.
Pricing & Availability
|Tacky Chan Tire Size||Addix Compound||casing||Claimed Weight||Price (EUR)||Price (GBP)||Price (USD)|
|27.5″ x 2.4″||Addix Ultra Soft||Super Downhill||1,250g||€74.90||£74.99||$104|
|27.5″ x 2.4″||Addix Soft||super gravity||1.165g||€74.90||£74.99||$104|
|29″ x 2.4″||Addix Ultra Soft||Super Downhill||1.320g||€74.90||£74.99||$104|
|29″ x 2.4″||Addix Ultra Soft||super gravity||1,240g||€74.90||£74.99||$104|
|29″ x 2.4″||Addix Ultra Soft||Super Trail||1,080g||€68.90||£68.99||$98|
|29″ x 2.4″||Addix Soft||Super Trail||1,080g||€68.90||£68.99||$98|